For as much as they try to enhance it, emails also hamper our productivity a lot. Not only do endless emails bog you down and keep you stuck in a loop of endless replies, but the stress of even having to wade through both the important messages and the junk is enough to make you avoid your inbox altogether. To stay on top of your work, school, and personal correspondence, you need a productivity plan: You need the “touch” rules of inbox management.
The one-touch rule
Start thinking of every email you get as an immediate priority. You don’t have to do whatever task is outlined in it the moment it arrives, but you do have to open it. The “one-touch” rule is similar to the “two-minute” rule of productivity in that way: A task that takes less than two minutes to complete should be done right away.
Open the email, respond to it, and either delete or archive it, depending on if you’ll need it later. If it requires no response, even better. This method works best for people who get a lot of emails that aren’t necessary to respond to, like all-staff updates. The goal is to touch it once instead of coming back to it repeatedly and deliberating if and when you’ll respond or deal with it. Open it, take in the information, send feedback if necessary, and be done with it.
The two-touch rule
According to Psychology Today, you can also try a “two-touch” method to clear your mind and be more productive when it comes to your emails if you have a lot that need a response. On the first touch of the email, decide if you need to respond to it right away (making it one-touch) or it’s something that can or should be responded to later in the week.
Use your email service’s flagging or snoozing functions to categorise it, so it is available to you easily when you’re ready to respond. Your first touch is still opening it right away; that’s key. Letting emails pile up is overwhelming, but opening them right away will help you maintain peace in your inbox. Designating a specific time to respond to non-urgent messages will also free you up to be more productive, as you’ll know you’ll get it done and won’t feel it weighing on you.